Sunday, December 10, 2017

SWOT analysis?

We all studied this at varsity, so you know everything that needs to be done. But do you? Did you ever ask yourself:  “Why do I need to do this?”

When running a business and a project it sounds logical to go through this exercise. And I believe it is a great starting point. But once it's done, discard most of it. And specifically shrug off the weaknesses and the threats. It is an ancient truth (Proverbs 4:23) that “You get what you focus on.” According to Saras Naidoo “...concentrate on your core business objectives... and never deviate from [this]”. 

Speak life over yourself and realize that as Frans Cronje, producer of “Faith like Potatoes” noted “...things can already exist in the spiritual realm, long before you see it in the physical realm.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Hawequa Mountains & Linton Park Wines, Wellington
Don’t ever disregard your small, faltering steps at the beginning of a project. Kingsley Holgate said “Have the vision, turn the key and get going.” You need to step into the water with faith before the water will part (Joshua 3: 15-16). Meaning, you need to have the courage to take that first vital action to start the ball rolling. After that, momentum sets in and with continuous focus and effort your project quickly becomes a hive of positive activity. In brief: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Adele asks “Should I give up, or should I just keep on chasing pavements?” Well, rest, contemplate, but don’t ever stop and don’t ever compare yourself with anyone else, because you always tend to compare your weak spots with another person’s strengths. This is almost a guaranteed way to become negative and depressed. Compete only with yourself, focusing on becoming a better you. Above all, love yourself.

Romain afirms “You should always focus on your strengths. Success is built on success. Success is achieved because of your strengths.” Forget about your weaknesses. According to Jane Raphaely rather ask: “Why am I doing this? Is it because I want to do it or because somebody else wants me to do it?” Remember “It’s all about how you finish” according to John Smit, Springbok rugby captain. To put this into perspective, Coco CHANEL came from an orphanage and built La Maison CHANEL with sheer guts and determination.
 Loading wine into a 20' container at JFH for Beijing, China
Tell yourself “I am brilliant!” every time you achieve a goal. This is not the time to ask “What’s next?” Don’t knock this milestone that you have achieved, saying “It is only the beginning”. You have worked diligently to succeed at it. This is not the time to ask “Are we there yet?” You are! Celebrate! Go overboard a little; the world is not going to tilt. Indeed, this is the moment to reflect at leisure about the grandness of life and the small part you are able to play in it. This builds your sense of self-worth, putting life into perspective.

Don’t lose sight of your weaknesses though, but manage it. To compensate, “Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you’ve lost it.” Sandra Bullock states firmly. Focus on your expertise and hire someone better than you to handle another part of the project. Trust their judgement and let them get on with what they do best. It is as simple as that.

Remember, the world stands aside for someone who knows where s/he is going. See this as the grand start of a whole new life. Take a high five, you have made it! Now go out and have fun.

Photo credits:-
1.       Hawequa Mountains & Linton Park Wines, Wellington – Anton BLIGNAULT
2.       JF Hillebrand Warehouse, Cape Town  – Romaine LESAGE & Anton BLIGNAULT

Coco CHANEL “Fresh, feisty & very French” interview with Audrey TAUTOU by Michael Wolski in British Airways horizons July 2009
Frans Cronje, producer of “Faith like Potatoes”
Jane Raphaely, “Once Upon A Time...” interviewed by Marianne Thamm in khuluma August 2011
John Smit, Springbok rugby captain in “True Bru” interview with Ard Matthews in khuluma December 2011
Kingsley Holgate, “Extraordinary Man, Extraordinary Life” interviewed by Rob van Vuuren in khuluma January 2010
Sandra Bullock, story by Dana Lee in abouTime Vol 3 No 1
Saras Naidoo, “First small steps into business” in abouTime Vol 2 No 8
Dr. Soon Zevenster, Radio Tygerberg
The Holy Bible, KJV: Joshua 3: 15-16, Proverbs 4:23 & Hebrews 11:1
Wine Marketing Services SA: “SWOT analysis?”

© 2017 Anton BLIGNAULT, Cape Town South Africa

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The answer is “Yes!”

What is the question? Indeed. With such an attitude you should sail through every encounter, even against the wind. Yet, why don’t you? Why don’t I?

Taken the fact that words only account for ±7% of total face to face communication, you need to look at what makes up the majority: body language at ±55% and tone at ±38%. Even in telephonic communication words only constitute ±14% of understanding, while tone at ±86% plays the crucial part.

But that’s not all. You not only need to say “Yes” but be pretty quick about it – like 5 to 10 seconds max. James 1:5-7 puts it well. When saying “Yes” it could also be something like “Hello” – anything to stay the course, keep the momentum going. As important is showing your connection physically: a handshake, a touch, a hug. Despite trying, I fall short most of the time on both these actions.

As you’ve seen above, saying “Yes” is really only a small part of getting your message across. Your body language and voice tone give your real intention and state of mind away, no matter what you say. “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are the real clues to what someone means, but the most difficult to read - certainly for me. And the next part is to be sufficiently sure about these non-verbal clues so as to act on it - in the moment. To complicate things even more, men and women are from different planets, so to speak. All the above is true whether you’re in a personal relationship, or interacting at work.
Noëlline BRIENS at Arra Vineyards & Pulpit Rock Winery
Spending six months with two girls in the office I certainly learnt a lot, but nowhere did I come close to getting it right all the time. Elvis Blue sings: “Sometimes we have to start again... Hey! Have you ever lost your way?... The sun will shine again.” I must say, with wine tasting being part of your job description it smooth most things out. Add to that cellar tours, winelands trips, roadside picnics and you’re on the right track. Don’t get ahead of yourself though, just relax and go with the flow.

The next is as important. Admit your mistakes – quickly. Apologise sincerely and set things right. Move on from there, forget and bury whatever caused the disharmony.  Go forth, dance, sing songs of praise and do acts of love. Be more daring, act on your intuition and welcome surprises. Be less scared, have less regrets and bury the guilt. In short: You have a life. Live it!

So what are you and I supposed to do? Breathe deeply, exhale; and then focus on what’s happening right now in front of you. “Be present. It’s the only moment that matters.” Only then can you say “Yes” with conviction - whatever the question - and be ready to act on it immediately.

But without empathy you’re not going to get anywhere. This means: forget yourself, your own ego, put yourself in the other person’s shoes – your spouse, lover, child, sister, brother; client, boss, colleague. Reflect on what this interaction, date, task, project, means to them – why do they do what they do - because it is as valid as your reason. There are no right or wrong answers, only different points of view. Understand theirs, accept it and embrace it. Ruth 1:16-17 puts this more eloquently.
Victoria RÉMY & Noëlline BRIENS  in the Winelands plus Absolute Style Wines
Final advice: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Don’t ever give up hope. Aim to win. Do all this boldly and with absolute enthusiasm! Bonne chance !

On a personal level, I agree with Coco Chanel: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” / « Une fille devrait être deux choses: chic et fabuleuse. »

Photo credits:-
1.       Arra Vineyards plus Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines triplet; Champagne DEVAUX, Kanonkop Estate – Anton BLIGNAULT
          Absolute Style Wines – Victoria RÉMY
2.       Arra Vineyards wine tasting room & Pulpit Rock Winery barrel cellar: - Anton BLIGNAULT & Pulpit Rock Winery

JF Hillebrand SA
John Gray, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”
Noëlline BRIENS, FMS
Pierre-Samuel REYNE, Champagne DEVAUX
The Holy Bible: KJV Ruth 1:16-17 & James 1:5-7
Victoria RÉMY, FMS

© 2017 Anton BLIGNAULT, Cape Town South Africa


Wednesday, February 1, 2017


What does ‘turnaround’ mean to you? In a business sense you’re talking of turning a company back into profitability. Personally it would mean hitting some good fortune after a series of bad luck.  Bonnie Tyler demands an emotional turnaround in “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

Turnaround can also mean just that, to turn on your heels and go back as you came. Only, let us this time have a renewed mind and some vigour in our step. A good question would be: “Why would you want to?” The French like to say “Pourquoi pas.”  
Bike in FMS colours - thanks to street wire artists
So get on your bike and let’s go.  On a personal level once you know why you’ve lost there are two ways to go forward. Enjoy the memories, learn from it, and move on; or try yet again to recapture those magical moments. Being passionate about your business career, the process remains the same. Yet here you have no choice: you must turn it around. The same accounts for a company.

Reflection on the current status quo should ideally be part of a continuous quest for renewal.  To affect this successfully you first need to have a vision of what it can be, then have the guts to cut whatever doesn’t work, adding new product categories and operating platforms. How? Get the big picture first and don’t bother about the details of how you’re going to get there. Start with a broad all-encompassing view and then zoom in. View your company as a client would, from the outside.
·         What are their first impressions? How do they find you?  – Digitally, physically, staff, voice.
·         Do you ask questions that will solve their queries? Are you flexible, customer-driven?
·         Do you consistently over-deliver on value? Does the company display moral courage?
·         What product categories are you competing against? What business are you in (not what you’re selling)?
·         Do you invest in your employees and then trust them to do their job? Do they display a quest for achievement, integrity, a propensity to learn?
New Beginnings Wines - a decade of success as illustrated in Platter's SA Wine Guide
Going through this process you need to be diligent in implementing the changes and ruthless in making cuts. See your company as a corporate brand; creating a unique company culture, with each platform having an over-arching theme. Consult your top management, utilizing their expertise to gain special insights. But don’t omit getting the enthusiasm of all staff, asking for practical inputs. Then, unlike the politicians, you need to do a progress report every 30 days, not only after a 100...

FMS does this very exercise twice annually, spending two months mid-year and another two at year-end to actively reinvent the company, keeping it on an accelerated growth path. So far we are looking pretty good thank you, ahead of all expectations. What about you?  Can you parade all the staff onto a podium, turn up Tina Turner and sing: You’re simply the Best!?
Photo credits:-
FMS bike – Anton Blignault
New Beginnings & Platter’s – Arthur de Magalhaes

Arthur de Magalhaes, FMS
Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Dave Kahle – Kahle Way® Sales Systems
Jane Zhang “Dream It Possible” c/o Huawei
Juliette Salmon, FMS
Street wire artists, Cape Town: Rasta & Victor
The Holy Bible: NKJV - Haggai 2:4; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremia 8: 4; Isaiah 43:19
Tina Turner “The Best”
Winesave® “Recapture the Moment”

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town